Hollywood Goes to War
The Army Air Forces 1st Motion Picture Unit 1944
(Digitally Restored)

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One of the most common questions I've been asked about the World War 2 aviation training films l show is "Who made these?" The answer is the subject this fascinating report, "The Army Air Forces First Motion Picture Unit." A massive Hollywood studio in Culver City California was turned over solely for producing these training and information films, staffed by experienced men & women enlisted into the Army from all the trades necessary to produce a top flight motion picture. You'll see writers, actors directors, editors, set designers, props, sound technicians, carpenters, sculptors, wardrobe designers & tailors, cartoon animators, special effects wizards, air & ground cinematographers, a motor pool for on location shooting trips, miniature model production, a full orchestra and more, going about their highly specialized tasks. You'll see films being made that are in our library like "Recognition of the Japanese Zero" with Ronald Reagan, and "Learn and Live: Pilot Heaven" in pre-production and on the set during shooting. And last but not least, you'll see the First Motion Picture Unit train combat photographers who were sent all over the world putting their lives at risk shooting deadly action as it happened on the battlefield. A unique look "behind the scenes" that's not to be missed!
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Air Reconnaissance, Combat CounterIntelligence, Camouflage
& Espionagein World War 2

Air Reconnaissance and Observation: Roles, Capabilities and Limitations Airborne intelligence gathering was an essential aid to land and sea combat operations in World War 2 This film was produced by the Army Signal Corps as an introduction for Airborne Observers, including visual reporting, photographic and artillery spotting. Their activities are shown in detail. Skills that had to be developed included navigation, map orientation, radio communications, target identification, photography and gunnery.
Combat Counter-Intelligence Narrated by Hollywood legend Lloyd Bridges This film opens with a 1940s version of "Spygate." A scout surreptitiously films from the stands a quarterback's little "tells" that give away the play he is about to run. The scout's team, who is an underdog, uses this intelligence to win their next game against him. The lesson for World War 2 Servicemen: "We must avoid "giveaways!'" The film then segues to a series of engrossing dramatized examples of US infantrymen in both World Wars doing just that.
Camouflage (This film is a treasure. It's one of the best examples of the theory and practice of the art of camouflaging military targets from air observation & attack that you'll find anywhere, presented in a highly entertaining Disney style full color animation supplemented by live action film. Hosted by "Yehudi the Chameleon," the action is centered around a P-39 Airacobra base in the Pacific and is chocked full of useful information & "how-tos."
Private SNAFU: Spies! If bumbling Private SNAFU sounds like Bugs Bunny in this entertaining short, it's because it's the legendary voice of Mel Blanc, who did Bugs and many other cartoon characters. The inept Private SNAFU appeared in a series of cartoons showing G.I.s what NOT to do in a variety of situations – in this case, keeping military secrets.
Sucker Bait "Loose lips sick ships," was a warning seen everywhere during World War 2 in America. In this highly dramatic film, starring Richard Carlson with Donna Reed, Barry Nelson and Esther Williams, unfortunately that comes true. The framework of the film is a lecture to a freshman class for spies in Germany who will soon be sent to the USA. As the cynical, sardonic instructor says, "Here is an incident to illustrate how our enemies talk, think and are criminally careless." The mission in the case study is to discover convoy sailing times & routes so U-Boats can sink them.
Don't Talk! ) his film was part of MGMs "Crime Does Not Pay'" series showing FBI agents at work. In this case, the G-Men are called in to investigate an explosion at an important defense plant. You'll see them use then state of the art photographic, forensic and chemical analysis to hunt down the perpetrators, in this case a German espionage ring centered around intelligence gathered by Beulah, a waitress in "The Elite Cafe," where plant workers congregate.
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